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Six Easy Ways to Improve Your Online Presence

Online presence is not just about having a website – it’s the culmination of all your online activity, including your website and social media. Here are the top six things every business should consider to ensure your business stands out from the crowd. 

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Six Easy Ways to Improve Your Online Presence

By Platinum Speakers

Online presence is not just about having a website – it’s the culmination of all your online activity, including your website and social media – blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube etc.

Have you set up a website and now you’re just waiting for people to find you? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. This “set and forget” modus operandi is common among businesses, both large and small.

The reasons for this are many, but most stem from either lack of knowledge or understanding and fear of the unknown. It’s frequently thought that a well-built and well-maintained online presence is out of your financial reach, that it’s a luxury or that your business is so small, it isn’t warranted. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course you can pay a mint for these services, but given the rapid growth of the digital arena, it stands to reason that the competition for servicing this industry is fierce. It just takes a bit of basic awareness of what you need and some shopping around. Additionally, there are testimonials aplenty on nearly everything you could ever want to know, including online services. All you need do is hit up Google and all the information you’re after will be literally at your fingertips.

Don’t know where to start? We’ve listed the top six things that every business should consider to ensure a solid online presence and to make sure your business stands out from the competition.

1. Get Strategic
As with any business channel, you need to ensure you have clear objectives as to what you want out of your online activity and how you want them to communicate to your customers. This of course, requires a clear understanding of who your customers are and what they want. It’s also important that you understand your business goals, both short-term and long-term so you can then use these as a foundation off which to develop your online channels. Write down your goals and refer back to them every step of the way, asking yourself how each of your online efforts are actively moving you to your business goals. Don’t just build an online presence because you’re supposed to, build it strategically so that it can help your overall business goals.

2. Get Responsive
This is a biggie. Search engines are increasingly ranking mobile friendly sites higher than those that are not.

So what is a mobile friendly (otherwise known as ‘responsive’) website?

A mobile friendly website is one that has been designed, developed and optimised so that each user, no matter which mobile device they are using (computer, phone, tablet etc), gets the best experience possible. To explain this further, here are some common characteristics of a mobile friendly website:
• Navigation has been simplified and clearly laid out to make page / post selection easy
• Design elements have been compressed, replaced or removed to simplify usage
• Content has been laid out to allow for easy mobile use
• Phone numbers are setup for click to call functionality
• Addresses are setup to use the device’s map functionality
• Calls to action are setup to work with simple forms or the device’s email functionality

The key reasons for mobile friendly websites are:
• There are currently 4 billion mobile phones in use globally
• 1.08 of these are smart phones
• 50% of local searches are carried out on mobile devices
• 86% of mobile Internet users are using their devices while watching TV
• A third of Facebook’s 700 million users are using Facebook Mobile
• Half of twitter’s 175 million users are using Twitter Mobile

To test your site’s mobile compatibility you can use Google’s tools; it will quickly evaluate the status of a page.

3. Move beyond the “build it and they will come” mentality
You may have heard the term SEO bantered around. This stands for Search Engine Optimisation – it’s the means by which you can make your website display as high up the page as possible when Google, Bing, Yahoo or any search engines are compiling the list of results for someone’s search. For example, if you were to type “flights Australia” into Google, it will bring up the top ranking websites that match your search, such as Webjet, Flight Centre and Jetstar. The search engines create this ranking based largely on Search Engine Optimisation.
So how do you make SEO work for your business? First, you can engage specialists who analyse your website in relation to searches done, keywords used and competitor analysis. They will then make recommendations as to how you can modify the wording on your site to better attract customers and improve your chances of being on the first page of any search result. Of course it costs money, but you can get some basic help in this area for as little as $1,000 - $2,000, which can be one of the better investments you make for your business if it means significant increase in online exposure and in turn, sales.

If you really don’t have the money to spend on engaging an SEO consultant, fear not. Google has some great resources that are free to assist in this area. You may find it helpful to set up a Google Analytics account. There are a number of tiers ranging from Standard which is free, to the paid Premium account, providing specific information on who is visiting your site and what devices they’re using to view your site ie. mobile phone, tablet, computer, pages visited etc. For many users, a standard account will be enough to get you started and on your way to having a website that provides an increased return for your business.

4. Be Social
Being social doesn’t mean that you must have an account for every social media channel that exists. On the contrary, it’s better to have a couple of channels and do them well – for example, you may opt for a website and a Facebook page only. If you can manage both of these well, then you’re on the right track. These channels are all about building relationships. About having conversations with your customers (your community) and it’s about giving them value. You may include tips and resources as well as some fun posts that serve to show your customers your personality, giving them a persona they can identify with and someone they would want to be ‘friends’ with or ‘follow’. Make sure each of your online channels links to the others, that you supply unique information on each channel (don’t just replicate information across every channel) and try wherever possible, to engage in conversation with your community – be sure to respond quickly and ask questions to keep conversations going.

5. Check how you measure up
There has historically been a common thought that online activity and return on investment is impossible to measure, but this is certainly not the case. There are a plethora of tools available to help you determine your ROI based on specific channels and online activity, and again, they needn’t cost you a lot of money nor be complicated to use. Google has several tools available, including Google Analytics.

6. Keep improving
This isn’t a sprint, it’s an endurance run, and it’s all about being open minded. At the end of the day, your online activity is just another tool to build and nurture your relationships with your customers – to make life easier for them and to develop trust. And remember to be authentic and genuine. After all, trust is what builds a loyal customer. Once it’s lost, it’s very difficult to regain, and social media can spread negative feedback like wildfire. Your credibility is worth it and so are your customers.

It takes a while for momentum to build across your online channels so don’t lose faith if it’s slow to take off. Just keep at it, and if you’re wanting some expert help, whether it be to assess your website, social media strategy and activity or to show you the wealth of free and cost effective online tools that are available to help you, take a look at Monte Heubsch, CEO of AussieWeb Local Search and AussieWeb Conversion. Monte is an expert in using online channels to grow your business.

Remember, your online presence is a business channel in itself and it represents you, so it’s in your best interest to nurture it and ensure it shows your business in its best light at every opportunity.

Read more about Monte Heubsch.